The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust (RWHT) has created a further annual 3,400 available outpatient appointments after completing a successful operational efficiency project in partnership with one of the UK’s leading healthcare delivery improvement specialists.
Newton Healthcare – which specialises in delivering operational efficiency and business intelligence in the healthcare sector – was appointed by the RWHT to identify and deliver performance improvements across its rheumatology, dermatology and diabetes departments.
The six-month project involved a detailed initial assessment of the Trust’s operational performance, which provided the information needed to identify, quantify, value and prioritise the biggest opportunity areas in the Trust’s performance.
Working closely with department clinicians, Newton identified three key focus areas for improvement – outpatient booking processes, medical and nursing staff utilisation and outpatient treatment data capture.
Newton implemented a system to ‘hold’ review patients in order to streamline the patient pathway and increase slot utilisation, reducing Did Not Arrive (DNA) rates by 13% and all other clinic slot losses by 9%.
The system provided a live forecast of the number of DNAs and cancellations expected on each future clinic, allowing phone call reminders to be prioritised and for remaining DNAs and cancellations to be compensated.
Further outpatient clinic productivity was achieved by optimising staff utilisation, improving patient choice and ensuring the effective management of waiting times.
These efficiency measures increased clinical activity per Consultant Nurse Specialist (CNS) to the national benchmark level and ensured that demand and labour availability were correctly matched.
Applying simple, robust reporting and feedback loops has also allowed RWHT to increase the accuracy of data capture of outpatient treatments by 19%.
Andrew Hawes, Director at Newton, said the efficiency measures have saved the RWHT in the region of £685,000 per annum and supported the Trust in meeting its strategic objective of being ranked amongst the best performing Trusts throughout the country.
He said: “By designing and implementing the system to ‘hold’ review patients we have been able to develop a standardised booking tool which can now be applied across outpatient clinics for all specialties within the Trust.
“This system will greatly improve RWHT’s service delivery by virtually eliminating rescheduled outpatient appointments – which were the largest single cause of their patients’ complaints – as well as delivering significant cost savings.”
The RWHT is a major acute general hospital providing a comprehensive range of services to people in Wolverhampton, the wider Black Country, South Staffordshire, North Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Tim Powell, Divisional Manager at RWHT, said: “The audit and resulting efficiency measures are now driving tangible benefits and cost savings across three major outpatient clinics.
“Newton’s innovative partnership approach has been a key factor in allowing us to deliver this significant step-change in our clinical performance,” he added.